Two champions and two major stakes winners are among the 12 nominees to the $30,000 Georgia Cup, the featured race of the 49th annual Atlanta Steeplechase in Kingston, Ga., on Saturday, April 19. First post time for the gala racing program is 1:30 p.m.
Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run capped her run to the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare Champion award with back-to-back victories in the Peapack Stakes at Far Hills, N.J., and the Crown Royal Stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Pine Mountain, Ga., last fall. She is trained by Richard Valentine, one of the sport’s top young horsemen.
Owner-trainer Kate Dalton nominated her Cat Feathers, the 2012 Life’s Illusion champion. The petite New York-bred mare already has had a 2014 outing, finishing third in the Carolina Cup in Camden, S.C., on March 29.
Jack Fisher, who shared the 2013 National Steeplechase Association champion trainer award with Jonathan Sheppard, nominated the impressive duo of Take Her Tothe Top and Opera Heroine. Both are owned by Arcadia Stable and both have Saratoga stakes victories on their resumes. Take Her Tothe Top won last summer’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes, and Opera Heroine won that race in 2011.
Last fall, Opera Heroine was second to Kisser N Run in the Peapack, and Take Her Tothe Top took the second spot in the Crown Royal.
Irvin S. Naylor, a three-time champion owner, nominated Bittersweetheart and Cordillera. Trained by Leslie Young, Bittersweetheart was third in the 2013 Crown Royal. Cordillera, now trained by Cyril Murphy, missed the 2013 season after a third in the 2012 Crown Royal.
Here are the 12 nominees to the $30,000 Georgia Cup:
Bittersweetheart (GB). 2007 b. m., Storming Home (GB)—Cruz Santa, by Lord Bud (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie Young. 2013 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $5,000. Finished third in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal Stakes after eighth in Peapack Stakes at Far Hills, her U.S. debut. Had been running successfully in hurdle allowances at smaller British tracks, including win at Southwell in August 2013.
Brilliant Match. 2008 dk. b. or br. m., Partner’s Hero–Gemini’s Gem, by Gemini Dreamer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2013 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $9,750. Homebred broke through with a victory in an Aiken Fall maiden race for fillies and mares in third 2013 start over fences.
Cat Feathers. 2008 dk. b. or br. f., Catienus—Mistress Hemming, by Quiet American. Owner-trainer: Kate Dalton. 2014 record: 1-0-0-1, $5,000. 2013 record: 6-0-2-1, $32,758. 2012 record: 4-1-1-0, $58,500. 2011 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. 2012 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion. Finished third in Carolina Cup for novices in 2014 debut. Winner of 2012 Mrs. Ogden Phipps at Saratoga finished second in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords for the second straight year in 2013. Finished third in Colonial Downs’ $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3). Wrapped up 2013 season with second in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle.
Cordillera (GB). 2008 ch. f., Araafa—Alexander Celebre (Ire), by Pientre Celebre. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. 2013 record: No starts. 2012 NSA record: 3-0-1-1, $21,250. In most recent start, third in the 2012 Crown Royal at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Finished second in Far Hills’ 2012 Peapack Stakes after fourth in her American debut, the $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Filly and Mare Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Flying Friskie. 2007 b. m., Touch ‘n’ Fly (Ire)—Acting Friskie, by Horatius. Owner: Marilyn Ketts. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. 2013 record: 4-0-1-0, $5,100. 2012 record: No starts. Finished fourth in 2013 Georgia Cup at Atlanta Steeplechase before second against males in the Block House at Tryon, N.C. Distanced in Iroquois’ Margaret Currey Henley and fifth in $25,000 James M. Moran open claimer at Radnor Hunt Races. Missed entire 2012 season after sixth in the 2011 Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md. Has two claiming wins to her credit.
G G Gal. 2009 ch. m., Whywhywhy–Royal G G, by Royal Academy. Owner: John K. Griggs. Trainer: Dave Washer. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. Lost rider in optional allowance hurdle at Aiken Spring meet. In only 2013 start, won maiden hurdle for fillies and mares at Carolina Cup meet.
Hiwasee Gem. 2007 b. m., Cetewayo–Northern Wood, by Northern Baby. Owner-Trainer: Janet Elliot. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. After tuning up in flat start at Aiken Spring, won a Carolina Cup maiden hurdle for fillies and mares by 28 3/4 lengths. Bred by Elliot and Gil Johnston.
Kisser N Run. 2008 b. m., Pleasant Tap—Firm Kiss, by Atticus. Owner: Clarke Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2013 record: 6-2-2-0, $95,400. 2012 NSA record: 3-2-0-0, $55,600. Claimed the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare Champion award with late-season wins in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes and the Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps before eighth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords. Has two second-place finishes in 2013, in Georgia Cup at Atlanta Steeplechase and Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11. Won Far Hills’ 2012 Peapack Stakes for new owner and trainer after maiden score at Foxfield Fall Races.
Missteria. 2008 b. m., Dance With Ravens—Cozy Lace, by Cozzene. Owner-trainer: Michael Leaf. 2013 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $9,000. Stumbled at last fence of Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes and lost her rider. In first career start over fences, made steady move to win Foxfield Fall’s $15,000 maiden hurdle for fillies and mares by 6 3/4 lengths. Won Charles Town $5,000 claimer in May but unplaced in last three starts.
Opera Heroine. 2004 b. m., Partner’s Hero–Soap Opera, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2013 NSA record: 4-0-1-0, $20,750. 2012 record: 2-0-1-1, $13,700. 2011 record: 6-2-1-0, $58,200. Ran a strong race in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes and finished second, beaten a half-length, before setting early pace and finishing fifth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal. Winner of 2011 Mrs. Ogden Phipps finished sixth in this year’s edition and was fifth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords. Mrs. Phipps was her first start since a second in Fair Hill’s 2012 Valentine Memorial.
Sully’s Approach. 2009 dk. b. or br. filly, Partner’s Hero—Push My Luck, by Press Card. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $7,000. Finished fourth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal in final 2013 start. Apparently confused in first start over fences at Fair Hill in May, filly co-bred by Pape and Sheppard sailed to a 19-length win in a bottom-level maiden claimer at Virginia Fall on Oct. 5.
Take Her Tothe Top. 2008 dk. b. or br. m., More Than Ready—Ceiling, by Boundary. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2013 record: 7-1-3-1, $70,650. 2012 record: No NSA starts. Finished second in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal Stakes after fourth in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes. Drew away to a 3 1/4-length victory in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps on Aug. 8 as lesser half of favored 2.95-1 entry, then was third in Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes.